View Full Version : Match work tobacco tins.

28-08-2017, 18:03
Trying to find some information about match work tobacco tins. These were normal tobacco tins with matchsticks or wood veneer covering the surface with some sort of drawn design or home made transfer applied.

In the 80's I was repairing these tins for people who I met in pubs. Most of these tins were already some years old and were owned by some very rough looking bikers, other were in the hands of Ex-prisoners. Nearly all of the early tins seemed to have pictures of motor bikes, hells angels chapter symbols or the likes or naked lady's wrapped in fantasy snakes or dragons. Other tins had pictures of dolphins, tigers,eagles etc. I went on to making the tins myself and must of produced hundreds for people over the last 20 years.

But the history of where these tins originated nobody seems to know. One theory is that they were a prison craft, another one is they were a part of the late 60's early 70's counter culture as they almost always seemed to be owned by ex Freak beats, ex prisoners or Bikers.

I hope somebody on this fine forum will remember or even own a tin or two they can share with us. Even if you can contribute a little knowledge about them or their possible origins, any little will help.

With thanks' Tony(Battyrat).

02-03-2018, 17:26
Hi Tony, I found your post when I was looking for info
on the exact same thing. Iím trying to find out more about a match work tin I bought ages ago, which I think looks early to mid 20th century. I will post a photo when I get home later.

03-03-2018, 08:57
I look forward to seeing it. I can post a few later myself when time allows.

03-03-2018, 10:36
In prison a lot of them are made. Prisoners have a lot of on-cell time so it breaks the boredom

Other things prisoners make with matchsticks are gypsy caravans & clock towers (as for clock towers prisoners but a little brass clock to put in the tower

05-03-2018, 22:36
I kept forgetting to post this! I have always assumed this was made in prison but know nothing else about it. The subject matter and the style of the signature would suggest itís from the early to mid-20th century, possibly even older. I did look up tobacco tin shapes and sizes ages ago to help date it, but canít remember now what I found out.

It looks like itís faded quite a bit, as the mushroom and the manís jacket are a very faded red and would probably have been quite bright originally. I just love the strange subject matter, the manís old fashioned clothes, and the nod to Alice in Wonderland.


06-03-2018, 06:55
That's a good tin, and would be a typical example from the counter culture of the late 60's -70's.The fantasy mad hatter mushrooms and a Hubble bubble pipe. Some of these images were done a little later. Trouble is they are hard to date as that counter culture still lives in many of us. Here is an example of another fantasy tin. It's made use of a home made transfer. Date wise it's typically 80's.

06-03-2018, 07:32
A few later tins using wood veneer.